You've probably passed it hundreds of times. In a fairly non-descript building on Airport Blvd., next to a furniture store (I think), just a stone's throw from IH-35 lies Quality Seafood. It's both a market and a restaurant, which has been operating in Austin since 1938, and from it's current location at 5621 Airport Blvd. since 1970 (there's a comprehensive write up on their history on their website).
I had been a number of years ago to buy tubes and tentacles to make fried calamari, but I had never eaten there, though I had always heard it was good. I was on the phone mid-week a friend, making plans for Saturday dinner. She wanted to eat some seafood, and neither of us wanted to spend a huge amount of money. We decided upon QS, and then invited some other friends to join us. They were already seated when I arrived around 6:15 pm. The place was pretty hoppin', as it was Saturday, and there were also a lot of families with kids.
When you enter the building, the fresh seafood counter and register to order food is to your left; a bar is in the middle of the room, and restaurant seating to the right. You go to the left and order, get your number, have a seat, and they bring out your food.
My friends had the raw oysters as a starter, which they sucked down quickly with no complaints. Look at the oyster in the 7 o'clock position -- it's huge! Raw oysters aren't really my thing, but they looked good. (And there were no follow up reports of either of them getting sick, always a good thing when raw is involved.)
Another friend started with a bowl of crawfish etouffee, which I tried. It had a nice flavor to it, and what appeared to be good amounts of crawdads in it. She was originally going to get the gumbo until I cautioned her against it: a blogger friend, Farmstress Maggie of From Maggie's Farm had been to QS the week prior to me, and had posted on Facebook how she thought they were using Krab (faux-crab) in their gumbo, given it's stringy texture. Seems odd that a place like that would use it, but Maggie is a true Louisiana girl who knows her gumbo! No regrets with the etouffee though.
I had a blackened catfish po-boy, and since I opted for the dinner plate, I got two sides for just $2 additional dollars ($10.99 for the whole plate), so I had the dinner salad and hush puppies. The puppies were delish! Dense and corny, without a trace of grease. I will say this about the fried stuff -- the friends who got the raw oysters also got fried oysters, fried shrimp, and fried okra, none of which was greasy. (I had a bite of the okra, which was really good.) The dinner salad wasn't much to speak of besides fresh lettuce. The catfish was really good, a nice thick piece, good spiciness from the blackening seasoning. The bread though, was weak. A bit too soft for the heft of the sandwich, and it fell apart easily. Tasted very good, but a firmer hoagie roll would have been more to my liking.
Again, as it was a Saturday night, there were lots of families with kids, a large group gathering for a birthday, and people just hanging at the bar. I sat facing the wall, so the whole time I got to enjoy the very colorful, cartoonish murals of ocean life that makes up the primary decor. I really got a kick of the murals, and now regret not taking a picture. The restrooms are down a long hallway, and half the corridor is adorned in the vibrant art.